What is drama therapy?

I was doing drama therapy on myself long before I ever heard the term.

Humans throughout history have used the arts therapeutically. The arts can help us process and regulate emotions, connect with others, and make meaning from our experiences.

The Roots of Drama Therapy

Western theatre history often starts with the Greeks and Romans. They used drama as a part of cultural festivals. You may have heard of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He wrote about the importance of catharsis. It the feeling of emotional release we experience after reading poetry or a novel, watching a film or TV show, or seeing a play.

The creative arts therapies (art therapy, drama therapy, dance/movement therapy, music therapy, poetry therapy) or expressive arts therapy make this process intentional. Focusing on the therapeutic use of creative processes promotes insight and catharsis and helps create positive change in people’s lives.

We all have many different parts of self, or “roles,” that we play in our lives. This could be social roles like parent, child, sibling, partner, friend, or neighbor. It could come from our work identities, or be related to our hobbies and interests. We might identify with archetypes from literature or history, or connect to role models which represent something we aspire to be. Or be aware of having an Inner Critic, or an Inner Child.

Being able to see the interactions and relationships between these parts in a new way, can create more agency in choosing how to react, or which part of Self we want to put forward in a given situation.

How is Drama Therapy Different?

Drama therapy is interdisciplinary and pulls from a broader range of Humanities research than many healing approaches. Anthropology, Sociology, and Communications influence drama therapy as much as Psychology does. Drama therapy is also beneficial because it is embodied. It is informed by sensory information and how emotions feel inside our bodies, instead of focusing on thoughts.

Psychological research is beginning to prove that our emotions are connected to our nervous systems and internal organs. When you have a “gut feeling” about something, that’s real. Data is being sent from your brain through the Vagus nerve, which extends from your brain and circles around all your vital organs.

Theatre artists explore our life experience to understand our motivations, beliefs, and behavior patterns. Empathy helps us tap into deep emotions, but we also have to be able to navigate our own triggers. Actors use breath, movement, vocalizations, and other techniques to explore their relationship to their bodies. And we can share these tools with others who want to learn to be more creative, spontaneous, and expressive.

There are also many reasons why verbal processing might not be accessible or beneficial with a given client. Drama therapy provides a framework to use movement, gesture, and other forms of non-verbal communication.

Who I Am

I have a background in Theatre and Performance Studies. I have experience as an actor, director, dramaturge, playwright, teaching artist, and with elements of technical theatre (costuming, makeup, props). I bring my experience as a theatre artist to the table, and use those tools as a part of my work.

I am queer and trans non-binary, and I know from lived experience how harmful it can be to seek out affirming healthcare services as a member of the LGBTQ / LGBTQIA+ community. I can provide LGBTQ affirming and sex-positive services to anyone who is struggling with issues related to gender and/or sexual orientation. I also have experience with kink / BDSM, polyamory / non-monogamy, and neurodivergence (Autistic / ADHD / 2e).

Who is Drama Therapy Good For?

Anyone who struggles to regulate emotional reactions to life stress!

I am passionate about healing trauma, especially childhood trauma. Trauma triggers can feel confusing and overwhelming. It is often easier to make sense of them through color, texture, metaphor, etc. instead of language.

I am also passionate about supporting helping professionals. This includes therapists, social workers, doctors, nurses, teachers, etc. So often, you take care of everyone else and neglect yourself! We can explore what makes it hard to take care of yourself. Then, we can create nurturing and creative self-care rituals to release stress instead of holding it in your body.

I believe strongly in cultural competency, and working from a social justice lens. Living in a white supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy is traumatic. Minority stress has real, tangible impacts on physical as well as emotional and psychological health.

I want to work with marginalized communities to unpack internalized oppression, and develop sustainable creative rituals for processing stress and trauma.

If you want to learn more, contact me.